Recently in Recordings
In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.
Jonas Kaufmann Mahler Das Lied von der Erde is utterly unique but also works surprisingly well as a musical experience. This won't appeal to superficial listeners, but will reward those who take Mahler seriously enough to value the challenge of new perspectives.
A new recording, made late last year, Morfydd Owen : Portrait of a Lost Icon, from Tŷ Cerdd, specialists in Welsh music, reveals Owen as one of the more distinctive voices in British music of her era : a grand claim but not without foundation. To this day, Owen's tally of prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music remains unrivalled.
The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.
Honours yet again to Oehms Classics who understand the importance of excellence. A composer as good, and as individual, as Walter Braunfels deserves nothing less.
‘Can great music be inspired by the throw of the dice?’ asks Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, in his liner notes to the ensemble’s new recording of Josquin’s Missa Di dadi (The Dice Mass). The fifteenth-century artist certainly had an abundant supply of devotional imagery. As one scholar has put it, during this age there was neither ‘an object nor an action, however trivial, that [was] not constantly correlated with Christ or salvation’.
Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s ﬁfteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.
New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.
Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the
Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement
violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his
ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.
Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara -
Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.
It is not often that a major work by a forgotten composer gets rediscovered
and makes an enormously favorable impression on today’s listeners. That has
happened, unexpectedly, with Herculanum, a four-act grand opera by
Félicien David, which in 2014 was recorded for the first time.
This recording, made in the Adrian Boult Hall at the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music in June 2014, is the fourth disc in SOMM’s series of recordings with Paul Spicer and the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir.
Félicien David’s intriguing Le désert, for vocal and orchestral forces plus narrator, was widely performed in its own day, then disappeared from the performing repertory for nearly a century.
This well-packed disc is a delight and a revelation. Until now, even the
most assiduous record collector had access to only a few of the nearly 100
songs published by Félicien David (1810-76), in recordings by such notable
artists as Huguette Tourangeau, Ursula Mayer-Reinach, Udo Reinemann, and Joan
Sutherland (the last-mentioned singing the duet “Les Hirondelles”
This new release of John Taverner’s virtuosic and florid Missa
Corona spinea (produced by Gimell Records) comes two years after The
Tallis Scholars’ critically esteemed recording of the composer’s
Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, which topped the UK Specialist Classical
Album Chart for 6 weeks, and with which the ensemble celebrated their
40th anniversary. The recording also includes Taverner’s two
settings of Dum transisset Sabbatum.
Sounds swirl with an urgent emotionality and meandering virtuosity on Jonas Kaufmann’s new Puccini album—the “real one”, according
to Kaufmann, whose works were also released earlier this year on Decca records, allegedly without his approval.
Marion Cotillard and Marc Soustrot bring the drama to the sweeping score of Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au
bûcher, an adaptation of the Trial of Joan of Arc
Stephen Paulus provided the musical world, and particularly the choral world, with music both provocative and pleasing through a combination of lyricism and a modern-Romantic tonal palette.
Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.
As the editor of Opera magazine, John Allison, notes in his editorial in the June issue, Donizetti fans are currently spoilt for choice, enjoying a ‘Donizetti revival’ with productions of several of the composer’s lesser known works cropping up in houses around the world.
04 Jul 2007
DONIZETTI: Don Pasquale
An ingenious and handsome staging, in the proper period and full of delicious color, fashion and furnishings, a production that honors the compatibility of tradition with good fun, and four singers who look their parts, play the farce, and are as easy on the ears as on the eyes — what more could you want from a Don Pasquale?
Item: Pasquale’s handsome wood-paneled library folds into a box — to
be trundled on and off at will. But on the side of the box is a grand baroque
window to overlook the garden serenade of the last scene, and that ornamental
window looks suspiciously like a jowly old man with bald pate, bulging eyes,
pork nose and gaping, furious mouth — a pun on an ornamental style and on
the story of the piece.
Item: Part one concludes with “Sofronia,” fresh from her convent and
dressed in demure gray gown, bonnet and veil, usurping control of her new
“husband’s” home; Part two then begins with the remodeled home full of
rushing servants under the cold stare of that severe veiled figure — but
it’s a trick; it’s only the costume on a dressmaker’s dummy, soon
replaced by “Sofronia” herself in rather gayer attire.
Item: As “Sofronia,” now Norina, sings her last delicious waltz, a
befuddled Pasquale sits alone, sadly isolated with “Sofronia’s”
twinkling shawl — but Norina, with a kiss, and Ernesto, with an embracing
arm, coax him to accept his defeat.
In short, the director’s “business” and the designers’ jokes take
delicious advantage of opportunities found in the ancient story itself, but
never push them beyond the bounds of wit or taste.
Ferruccio Furlanetto is the unsophisticated old rogue who learns a lesson;
he sounds woolly and day-dreamy and fine, playing the unsophisticated
aspirant roué who is in fact too shy to speak to a strange girl, though his
delivery of the patter could be quicker. Nuccia Focile, whose soprano is
gratefully, sensuously darker than the chirp of such classic Norinas as Grist
and Sciutti, has no problem with the coloratura of “So anch’io la virtu
magica,” but comes into her own in “Tornami a dir.” Her slimness and
agility and very Italian features don’t hurt, and in her talent and vocal
quality and care for the style she is, I think, the best candidate among
young Italian sopranos for the mantle of Mirella Freni. Gregory Kunde gives
Ernesto’s music an endearing bloom with fine arching phrases, and he makes
a stalwart figure — for once our tenor is not a cipher. Lucio Gallo
connives but does not distract as the doctor, whose plot is — well — the
plot of the opera. Riccardo Muti, famous for following the score to the
letter, seems to have noticed that Donizetti intended his last comic opera to
sparkle; sparkle it does.